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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 11:10 GMT
Suspect admits Poso murders role
Indonesian Hasanuddin at court in Jakarta, 8/11/06
Hasanuddin could be sentenced to death if found guilty
A suspected Muslim militant has admitted he was involved in the 2005 beheading of three Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia's Sulawesi.

Hasanuddin, 34, told a Jakarta court he helped plan the attack but he rejected allegations he masterminded it.

He said he wanted to avenge the deaths of Muslims killed during religious violence in the country, the world's most populous Muslim nation.

He and two other suspects could be sentenced to death if found guilty.

The murders shocked Indonesia and threatened to reignite violence between Sulawesi's Muslims and Christians, which has continued despite a 2002 peace deal.


"I was indeed involved in the beheadings," Hasanuddin told the court.

"With honesty and sincerity coming from my heart, I ask for forgiveness from the families of the victims. I promise to never repeat it again," he said, according to the Reuters news agency.

Muslim gang members carry makeshift rifles as Christian homes burn in sectarian violence-wracked Poso, December 2001
Previously known as Celebes, Sulawesi is Indonesia's fourth largest island
80% of residents are Muslim, while 17% are Christian
A December 1998 brawl in Poso led to months of religious violence in which hundreds died

"But we did it because authorities did nothing about massacres of Muslims."

Prosecutors accused Hasanuddin of masterminding the attack.

They said two other defendants - Lilik Purnomo and Irwanto Irano - were following his orders when they helped carry out the attack.

A defence lawyer for the two said they could not accept the charges as they were not based on facts.

Several others who took part in the ambush remain at large.

The three schoolgirls were attacked as they walked to the private Christian school near their home in the town of Poso, in central Sulawesi.

One of their heads was discovered outside a church.

Sulawesi has long been the scene of violent attacks between Christians and Muslims.

Tensions have risen in recent weeks following the execution of three Christian militants in September, for attacks against Muslims in 2000.

More than 1,000 people are believed to have been killed during two years of violence triggered by a brawl between Christian and Muslim gangs in December 1998.

Indonesia beheadings trial opens
08 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Arrests over violence in Sulawesi
31 Oct 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Executions spark Indonesia unrest
22 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Three Indonesian girls beheaded
29 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia flashpoints: Sulawesi
28 Jun 04 |  Asia-Pacific

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